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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

I continue with the memories, a year after his death, of my beloved heart-cat, who lived with us from January of 2012 through Halloween of 2017.

2016

mother Mary, center, with Smoky and Frosty, her sons.  1-7-16

1-8

mom wins…

1-7

1-8; I recommend the Seaside Knitters series.

1-10

1-13, our last winter of reading together

1-14, a crowded lap

1-18

1-23

1-27

When I read a book, he sat quietly underneath or beside it.  When I watched telly, he’d scoot up and put his head on my shoulder.

2-2; the blocked cat door must mean someone was recovering from an injury so all had to stay indoors.

wanting OUT

Unlike Skooter, our present day cat, Smoky would never spray in the house to express his disgruntlement.

Mary and Smoky, 2-13

2-13, helping me blog about my mother’s garden diaries

2-15, bookends

2-17

2-18, cat door is opened

on the desk where I use my computer on rainy days off

Smoky, Mary, Frosty, 2-21

2-23

2-26, he loved a taste of morning tea

2-28, Mary and Smoky

2-29: In case you are wondering, the cats wore Birds Be Safe collars.

3-1, as I began to work on my Grandma’s Scrapbooks side blog.

3-1

3-15

In mid March, Mary suddenly showed extreme breathing distress.  A trip to the vet revealed that she had end stage lung cancer, probably from living in a smoky motor home for 7 years.  We lost her on March 18th, 2016.  I wrote a memorial to her starting here, with a some of same photos of her and her favourite son.

3-18

A visit from neighbor cat Onyx

bereft brothers 

just three now

Smoky and Calvin

3-19, sleeping alone without mom

3-22, Smoky and Frosty

3-23; I was happy to see the brothers getting closer.

3-24, Smoky and Calvin in the garden

3-30

4-1

4-3

4-10, rainy reading day

4-12, more rainy reading with the brothers

4-15

4-15

4-16

4-18

4-29

5-3

5-8

5-15

5-22

5-28

6-17

7-9

7-22

7-22

7-28, with Patti Jacobsen

7-31, with garden company (a visit from Pam and Prissy)

8-7

8-7

8-7, campfire night

8-13, three lap cats

8-14; Smoky’s ears were always cool and silky.

8-19

8-19, blogging

8-20, watching new cat Skooter try to figure out the cat door

8-20

8-20

8-21, with Frosty

9-5

9-5, with Calvin

9-11, campfire night

9-16, the after work greeting

9-16, campfire night

9-17

9-17

9-18

9-18, with J9

10-2

10-8, Allan’s photo

10-9, campfire night with Smoky on my lap

10-10, campfire night

10-26

10-30

10-30

10-30

10-30

11-1

11-2

11-9, my constant companion

11-13, Calvin, Smoky, Frosty, Skooter

11-18

11-19

11-22

11-24, first day of staycation

11-26; Calvin finally has a steady friend.

11-28, Smoky was a friend to all.

11-28

11-30

12-10; Frosty and Calvin and Skooter dine in the laundry room…

…but Smoky had his own place to eat or he would let the others have his food (especially Calvin).

12-13, Frosty and Smoky

12-13

12-13

12-16 (Calvin is the one who scratched up the arm of the chair.)

12-19

12-20

12-20

12-29

12-31-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, 9 October 2018

A sunny day turned reading plans into work reality.   I had rearranged today’s work in order to stay to home because we were expecting a cable telly repairperson in the afternoon to replace our suddenly plotzed DVR box.  I had briefly pondered if it were a sign to give up cable telly and just watch shows online.  I could not find the energy to figure out a new thing so had resignedly waited the two days for a repair appointment.

Ilwaco

I planted the Conca D’Or lily bulb into the fire station garden while Allan photographed a couple of Ilwaco houses that are further along with Halloween prep than we are.  (We have not begun.)

on Spruce Street

another Spruce Street house….

…wherein lives a friend sympatico with us (not shown in the window).

I wonder if she had just gotten back from a demonstration we had not heard about?

Allan helped by deadheading at the fire station.

We dug out annoying plants from two of the city planters kitty corner from the boatyard.

part of the boatyard garden

the north side of the boatyard

I once had a garden running partway along the north fence as well as the full length of the east fence.  Only the east garden remains because a pipe laying project about fifteen years ago put paid to the north garden.

A teucrium (?) of great vigor had completely filled up one of the planters, and in another, a golden oregano had repeatedly been crispy by watering days.

Allan’s photo

We had a bag of potting soil that had an unfortunate large vein of sawdust in it.

Allan’s photo

formerly swamped with golden oregano (Allan’s photo)

after (Allan’s photo)

I should have dumped the whole bag of potting soil into the wheelbarrow and mixed it up.

We took the teucrium (?) and golden oregano down to the port and planted it in curbside beds where a reasonably vigorous plant is welcome.

east end

port crew member at work tidying the bank of the marina (Allan’s photo)

Allan at work at the west end

While waiting for the cable repair, we worked across the street from our house at the J’s.

ghosts in Jay and Jodie’s tree

azalea oddly in bloom

Looking at that photo, I think that I will remove those blue fescue.  They are well past their prime.

The only irksome thing about waiting for the cable repair was the several automated phone calls from the company wanting to be assured that we had not changed our mind about the two hour window for the appointment.

The situation reminded me of how people say “First World Problems” about things like cable tv or mobile phone woes.  This excellent essay explains why the phrase is problematic—and inspired me to read the novel Open City by Teju Cole.

In case you don’t click the link, here is part of what Cole wrote about “First World Problems”: “I don’t like this expression “First World problems.” It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.”

Here is another essay on the same topic.

And The Guardian eloquently weighed in right here.

Right after another automated call let me know that the repair would take place in a half an hour, two cable guys arrive, one a trainee, both efficient and pleasant.  The new DVR box is smaller and yet also so subtly grumbly at all times that much later, while reading at midnight, I thought we had a dripping leak somewhere. It was just the disk making a faint racket, the sort of racket that most people would say only bothers me (but Googling proved it does bother other people with sensitivity to noise). Every appliance we have had to replace this year, (refrigerator, washing machine, and now the DVR) is noisier than the old one we had before.  I wish the engineers would realize that quietness is a worthy goal.

I failed, by punching the wrong menu number, to correctly take the survey in yet another phone call right after the appointment was over, so I missed my chance to give the guys a good review.

But I digress.  In one of Marion Cran’s books, she mentions being told that her books were “discursive”.  The kindest part of the definition is “rambling, digressive, meandering, wandering, maundering, diffuse.

After the repair, we had time to garden for two more hours at

The Shelburne Hotel.

I went into the north side garden by the pub windows to dig out the utterly silly echinops, AKA blue globe thistle plants there.  From the original clump I planted in the sun years ago, these had been moved all over in my ten year absence.  They won’t bloom in this deeply shady bed.

before

I like the short, narrow bladed, and very controllable round-handled shovel when I am working by the old windows.

after plant removal and then shifting of a pulmonaria and scrophularia, both with white or silver leaves.

The last of the sweet peas are still good enough to stay.

looking north

looking south

from the south end sidewalk

Meanwhile, Allan had checked the plants on the second floor decks and balconies.

dahlia on the room four deck

He then sheared down the Persicaria ‘Firetail’ that had been planted under the rhododendron at the south end of the property.

before

My former spouse and former co-gardener stopped by for a chat.

In the mail today arrived three books by Marion Cran.

Garden Talks has transcripts of her 1920s gardening radio show. She is said to be the first gardening broadcaster.  The little book is Garden Wisdom, excerpts from her various books. Gardens of Character is her second to last gardening memoir.  I set aside the final memoir, Hagar’s Garden, and sat down straightaway to read halfway through Gardens of Character (with a break for dinner and This is Us).

12:30 AM: Skooter usurps the late night reading lap space

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  Sunday, 7 October 2018

Rain brought another Marion Cran reading day.  I will be sharing a great deal of words and thoughts about her when staycation gets underway.  For now, I offer a few snippets as I go along.

She wrote eloquently of finger blight:

A bit later:

Monday, 8 October 2018

I took a very quick turn around the wet garden to check the rain gauges.

much rain!

hips of Rosa rubfrifolia (R. glauca)

Salvia leucantha

beautyberry

And then I was so happy to get back to reading Marion Cran.

I read The Garden Beyond (1937)  about gardens in Kenya.  She visited her daughter and son in law there.  Unfortunately, her books are marred by her belief in the imperial colonization of other countries and the superiority of white English folk.  Oh, Marion. If only we could talk about this. Because in other ways she was progressive and egalitarian, and because her racism was not hateful and vindictive, I have hope that she would have been enlightened had she lived in the modern day.  More of this when I blog about her books…

She made her living from writing.  Her fame enabled her to move in high society, and yet in many ways her heart was with the working class.  Her appreciation for small gardens and those who make them is a thread throughout her books.

later:

I am trying to read her books in order, yet I did not realize at first that ALL her gardening books, even ones that appeared to be about garden touring, continue her very personal life memoir.  Two of the late 1920s books had not arrived yet, nor had the 1939 Gardens of Character, not due to arrive till October 23rd.  (I am mostly getting them from Abe Books, thanks to Allan’s skillful online shopping, and most of them are coming from England.)

So I had to begin the last one, Hagar’s Garden, about her life when she lost her garden due to ill health.  I could not wait till the next book arrived; by then it would be Bulb Time and close to Halloween and if the weather is good, I would have no rest for reading till November.

Oh, how I wept through the first half of Hagar’s Garden; her beloved third husband. a romance that had simmered for years till they married in their 50s, had died after they had just three years together.  Her finances were dire because she had a small heart attack and because of WWII drying up all writing commissions, and she could not maintain her mortgage and so had to let her house and stay with friends.  I was only a third of the way through when my day of reading ended.

I had done the math wrong (not unusual) and thought that when she died two years after Hagar’s Garden, she was 63—my age.  This lit a fire under hypochondriacal me to want to finish the book before I followed suit.  (Then I did the math again; she died at 67.)

Meanwhile, when the rain turned to mist and then stopped, Allan had gone to work at Coho Charters at the port, shearing two escallonias.  He finished in the return of a light mist.

 

I hoped for a rainy Tuesday to finish the book.  Maddening though it is to read them out of order, it would be a comfort to have three more books left to read after the last harrowing story of one of my worst fears: losing one’s home and garden.

It was calming after that to watch a neatly solved crime in the late evening in the detective series Vera.

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Monday, 17 September 2018

We are having a few easier weeks before fall clean up kicks in.  I have started the work list for the fall:

Frosty expressed his joy that I’d be spending the day in the garden with him.

Skooter doesn’t get all that excited.

I looked at the hebe which is increasingly blocking our path to the back yard.

I had been planning to leave it till after we had garden company the following Monday.  However, I found myself wielding the loppers today.

I have mixed feelings. Now it would be nice to have a more attractive rain barrel (or at least a level one).  It amuses me to see howthe hebe broke out of a wooden pot that I had set there in autumn of 2010, never planning for the hebe to be there permanently.

(Update: Allan noticed that on rainy days, Skooter now likes to lie under this hebe to stay dry.  I don’t think he would have fit before.)

I then managed to get some ladies in waiting planted.

Epimedium ‘Starlet’

Sarcococca ‘Dragon Gate’

I think I got this one from Dan Hinkley at the Hardy Plant Study Weekend.

I had two new billardias to plant, both purchased from Dan Hinkley back in June.

I planted one in the sun, contrary to advice, and then thought better of it and moved it to part shade.  I don’t want to follow my mom’s example; she used to say she planted plants where she wanted them, regardless of what they wanted, and if they died, so be it.

In the process of replanting, I got the tags mixed up so I don’t know which is where at the moment.

next to the front gate, to the left

My original plan was to have one on each side of the gate.  But to the left, below, I had planted in full sun.

So that one went off to a shady area in the back garden.

Quite possibly ‘Wills Track’ is now planted under the big rose arbor in back garden.

With daylight waning, I returned to reading Marion Cran.

As her third memoir begins, her husband had left her for ““one less belligerent, an alien beggar maid much younger and nicer-looking than this old wife”, and when the lease ran out on the garden and home she’d written about in her first two books, she had to find a new abode and start a new garden.  Even though her new home was ancient in structure and in terrible disrepair, I think the title has a double meaning.

I do love her so.

My favourite garden writers are the ones who lift that veil and let the garden book also reveal their lives.  Monty Don does this and so does Kate Llewellyn.

I finished the book and then caught up on the daily August entries of the Tootlepedal blog.  His blog is what inspired me to write every day.

Frosty, me and Mr T.

With a big stack of books to read still on the table and 20 suspended holds at the library, and with several blogs by others to catch up on, I am longing for bulb time and fall clean up to be over and staycation to begin.  Two and a bit more months of work stand between me and two months of reading time.

 

 

 

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In the effort to catch up in book reports, I will begin with the book I recently finished.  (This means I have skipped over the two Morville books by Katherine Swift; I hope to catch up on book reporting later this autumn.)

The Prickotty Bush by Montague Don

Those who have read Monty and Sarah Don’s The Jewel Garden know that they loved and lost a garden due to financial woes, long before Monty was the famous garden show presenter that he now is.

I read The Prickotty Bush, the story of that garden, slowly over a few weeks of this exhauting, rain-free summer, just a few pages before bedtime.

Its somber cover goes along with the somber subject of a garden under siege by the bank and an obsessed man trying to make a garden as quickly as possible.

Here are some of my favourite bits:

On the imposition of order by pruning:

Also known as Something Shiny Syndrome:

The bullying wind:

On doing it all oneself:

Interestingly, in one of the next books I read, Marion Cran wrote about the same thing.

Below, I identify with Montagu’s urgency.  I felt, at age 55, when I started the Lake Street garden, that I had to get it laid out the first winter during a two month staycation, no matter what the weather.

30 December 2010, gardening in ice-crusted soil

On time in the garden (shared because I love what he says about human aging):

On how to look at your garden:

On garden design:

On plant names:

Friday, 14 September 2018

Frosty rejoiced that I had the day at home.

He was vocal about it.

Rain gauges from last night:

Even the slowest filling rain barrel was almost full:

I think I might need to remove a hebe.  I set it in the spot below, in a wooden planter, and it has rooted into the ground, broken the planter apart, and is about to block our path.  It pulls debris out of the wheelbarrow when I pass by. And yet it is so grand.

From my window I had seen an exciting glow:

Kniphofia ‘Earliest of All’

I had tried in late winter to divide it and transplant some to the center bed.  So far, this is all the transplants have done after many months:

puny

My goal today was to deal with the basket plantings brought home from Long Beach.

In bin two, I had a pile of all green debris on top of brown.  I wanted to layer them, green and brown, into bin four.

Four hours later:

I got just this much compost from bin 2, which had not had much time to decompose since the last time I turned it.

Because I feel anxious about the financial aspect of retirement, I rejoice in any compost that I can make instead of buying mulch.  It’s good practice for more frugal years. Compost turning and sifting is an activity that relaxes and pleases me ever so much.

After a couple of rains, the rest of the basket root balls will be easier to break apart.

I wish I had a before photo of where Allan helped me dig out a big orangey grass that had seeded into the front of the east bed.  I needed some room for other plants, and have many others of this grass that I originally got from Pam Fleming’s former nursery.

left, some of the many that are left; right, a new empty space (not for long)

Salvia africana-lutea and an matching spider

Saturday, 15 September 2018

At last, I had a glorious rainy reading day, all Marion Cran.

First, I went through my book marks in her first book, which I finished two nights ago,  to photograph my favourite bits to share in a later post.

When I first opened my used English edition of The Garden of Ignorance, I found these inside:

All the way from Old Blighty, perhaps; there is nothing on the back of the picture.

Today I read all of The Garden of Experience and more than half of the third book of her autobiographical series, The Story of My Ruin.  She will get more than one of a series of blog posts when I have time to write more about the summer’s reading.

Here is just one excerpt that echoes Monty Don’s words about having to make one’s garden all by oneself.  In Cran’s world of the 1920s, that meant with the help of a gardener, but the garden owner also knew where every plant was and did much of the work herself.

I hope to offer you many more shared thoughts about Marion later this year.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed the endpiece to The Garden of Ignorance:

 

 

 

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Sunday, 17 June 2018

at home

Rose ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ and bright blue skies

Midmorning, I started sifting compost from bin two.  My goal was to mulch the edges of the center bed as far as possible.

sifting

at least a foot of good compost at the bottom of the bin

I did not get even one barrow full before I gave up and went inside.  It was too hot…in the low 80s.  I worked on billing and blog posts instead, waiting for the day to cool down.

I did not get back outside again till five.

my view while sifting compost

all the way to the bottom of bin two

Bin two was turned into bin one. Bin three will be turned into bin two.

I was able to mulch all down the east side and the front of the center bed.

my audience

And I got my small batch of ladies in waiting planted.

In the evening, because of the extra hot day and because Sunday is the quiet day there, Allan watered at the

Ilwaco Community Building.

fern at the entrance to the library

same fern after cutting off the last year’s fronds

another fern that Allan trimmed up today

reading

Earlier this weekend, I finished the fourth in Virginia Ironside’s Marie Sharp series.  I do hope there will be a fifth one, seeing Marie into her 70s.

I knew exactly which documentary she refers to in this passage:

…The first of the Paradise Lost trilogy.  I have watched them all, the earlier ones twice, and it is a strange thing to find such a documentary enjoyable to watch.

When Marie goes to buy an iPhone:

I am a fan of Piet Oudolf, so i was terribly amused at this passage about a garden made by Marie’s friend James.

Marie follows David’s example and goes on to say, “It’s not like a normal garden, true…

I discovered Virginia Ironside by reading (three times in all) her book about pet loss, Goodbye Dear Friend.  So of course, the passage about Marie burying her cat is perfect.

You might not want to read it; it had me in tears.  It is at the end of this blog post so you won’t miss anything if you stop right here.

I still miss my heart cat Smoky and my good feline friend Calvin and can’t even bear to put their ashes in the ground yet.

 

 

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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Allan’s cold hit him hard today.  My grandma used to say, when ill, that she was “sickabed on two chairs with my feet on the woodpile.”  Google tells me that the original quotation was “sick abed AND two chairs”, apparently something to do with putting two chairs next to your bed so you don’t roll out.

I worried about work all day and as a result I could not focus on weeding my own garden, until about five o clock, when a cold wind drove me indoors soon after I began.  Before that, I assuaged work worries slightly by going to the Norwood and the J’s garden, both just yards away from home.

Skooter accompanied me to the Norwood garden.

the north side shade garden

Across the street, I weeded the J’s front garden.

But look, one of the three arborvitae at the end is dying from the base up. I have no idea why.

looks completely ominous

So I found this possibly useful post.

Someone might tell me “That is not an arborvitae, it’s a juniper.”  I have to admit I don’t pay much attention to the particulars of common columnar evergreens.

The cold wind that sent me indoors after working allowed me to finish reading a wonderful book by Monty Don.  I wish I could remember which recent book led me to this one.  I got it via interlibrary loan; it came from the Johnson County Library, Shawnee Mission, Kansas, which appears to be a linked chain of libraries, similar to our Timberland Regional Library.

Frosty likes dogs.  He grew up with dogs with his previous person, Terry, who died after the dogs did and who passed his cat family on to us.

I was smitten with Monty Don’s writing style.  If I lived in the UK, he would be familiar to me as the host of Gardener’s World.  Oh, how I wish we had more gardening shows to watch on this side of the pond.  We used to, but Home and Garden Television (HGTV) turned into just Home television.  It looks like I may be able to watch Gardeners World online.

I now want to read all of Don’s books.

I was hooked by this paragraph at the beginning:

Because the book reminisces about all the dogs of Monty Don’s life, not just the famous Nigel (who appears with him on telly), there is the tragedy of losing one’s companion, which strikes me hard because of losing my feline friends Calvin and Smoky so recently.  I wept over this passage from The Sword in the Stone.

I liked this passage about having a seasonal pond, as we do out on the Meander Line.

Nigel likes peas.

Nigel also likes apples.

Below: More of the agony of losing a canine friend.  I hope I will feel this way about the place where I will put Smoky and Calvin’s ashes, where Smoky’s mother is already buried.

On changing the garden:

I appreciate that Monty Don is so open about having suffered from depression.  I have ordered The Jewel Garden, the story of how he and his spouse lost their jewelry design business and eventually ended up with a beautiful garden and a prime spot on Gardeners World.

I am pleased to report that after lying sickabed all day, Allan got up in the evening and enjoyed watching some telly (not Gardeners World, unfortunately, just Rachel Maddow and Survivor!).  His improvement, despite still having a cough and sniffles, was remarkable, but I said that we must still have tomorrow off so that he can continue to recuperate.

At bedtime, I began to reread Mirabel Osler’s gardening trilogy, beginning with A Gentle Plea for Chaos.

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